The United States continues its descent

A press release from Save the Children:

The United States continues its descent in the global rankings of best and worst places for mothers, slipping to 33rd out of 179 surveyed countries, reveals Save the Children’s new report, “State of the World’s Mothers 2015: The Urban Disadvantage.” Norway rose to the top of the list, which was released today, while Somalia remained last for the second year.

32 countries do better than we do.

That could be all right – somebody has to do best, and it’s not written in the stars that it should be the US. But we’re a very rich country, so, really, if we’re that far down the table…we’re doing something wrong. Not that we didn’t already know that.

The report indicates that women in the United States face a 1 in 1,800 risk of maternal death. This is the worst level of risk of any developed country in the world. An American woman is more than 10 times as likely to eventually die in pregnancy or childbirth as a Polish woman. And an American child is just as likely to die as a child in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia.

The worst level of any developed country in the world. Ugh. That’s shaming.

You know what it is. It’s because we rely on poverty. We want poverty; we don’t want to get rid of poverty. Why? Cheap docile labor, that’s why. Profit. We care far more about the ability of a few people to get obscenely rich than we do about the ability of all people to do well enough.

Here are 1-33:


2 Finland

3 Iceland

4 Denmark

5 Sweden

6 Netherlands

7 Spain

8 Germany

9 Australia 1

0 Belgium

11 Austria

12 Italy

13 Switzerland

14 Singapore

15 Slovenia

16 Portugal

17 New Zealand

18 Israel

19 Greece

20 Canada

21 Luxembourg

22 Ireland

23 France

24 United Kingdom

*25 Belarus

*25 Czech Republic

27 Estonia

*28 Lithuania

*28 Poland

*30 Croatia

*30 Korea, Republic of

32 Japan

33 United States of America



  1. Trebuchet says

    That’s why we all need to vote Republican! 33 is WAY too high. If we prevent enough birth control and sex education, increase poverty, and limit medical care we can probably make it into triple digits.

  2. says

    How many of those countries at the top have socialized medicine?

    You know, the thing the assholes in Washington say doesn’t work. That thing.

  3. says

    Some research shows
    1: Norway / socialized medicine
    2: Finland / socialized medicine
    3: Iceland / socialized medicine
    4: Denmark / socialized medicine
    5: Sweden / socialized medicine, taxpayer funded (national insurance)
    6: Netherlands / managed healthcare with mandatory insurance (basically, a tax) with socialized long-term care and citizen-mandatory short-term care insurance
    7: Spain / socialized medicine
    .. I’m getting bored.

    What an interesting pattern!

  4. Jean says

    Interesting. Canada was in the top 10 in 2006 and before. We’re now 20th. What happened in 2006? Oh yeah, Harper was elected. And he’s still there.

    Marcus, I thought that the US was the only developed country without some sort of universal medical coverage.

  5. iknklast says

    The problem is, we don’t want to be a good country for mothers. We’re only interested in fetuses. Mothers are just incubators carrying those fetuses, and we have no reason to care what happens to them. Or the fetus, either, once it graduates from fetus status into actual living human being status – unless, of course, the living baby is a royal. Then we care all over the place about it, can’t get enough of it, because it is rich and protected and…royal.

  6. Paul Hatchman says

    Australia as well. But it’s not “socialized medicine”, whatever that is supposed to be. It’s just called public health care.

    You don’t say socialized roads do you?

  7. Emily Vicendese says

    The worst thing about relying on poverty is the way the poor have to be blamed for poverty if the charade is to be maintained.

  8. M'thew says

    Netherlands still #6. In the meantime, I’d be interested in our ranking on the list for care for the elderly and people with mental problems. Bet it doesn’t look too good, now.


    6: Netherlands / managed healthcare with mandatory insurance (basically, a tax) with socialized long-term care and citizen-mandatory short-term care insurance

    Basically, I pay a tax to the Dutch IRS every year, a percentage of my income. I also pay a part to the company I insure with, at least for the base policy and, if I want to, for any additional insurances (think dental care, fysiotherapy, “alternative medicine” if I cared for it) – this fee is free for the insurer to determine, and this is where they can compete. There’s a legally proscribed minimum for the contents of the base policy; insurers can choose to offer more than the legally proscribed package. I am obliged to take out a health insurance, but insurers are also obliged to insure me. They are trying to find loopholes around having to insure people who need a lot of care, but I hope we manage to plug those holes faster than they can find them.

    More on this in Wikipedia.

  9. aziraphale says

    The UK at #24 also has “socialized medicine” thanks to its habit of occasionally electing a left-of-center government. But the right-wingers keep nibbling away at it. We may be down there with the US in a few years.

  10. lpetrich says

    It’s interesting how the US is behind several other nations in the world in various indices of societal well-being. Better than most of the Third World, but that’s a poor advertisement.

    Indices like the Fund for Peace’s Fragile-States Index, the Economist’s Democracy Index, the United Nations’ Human-Development Index, etc.

  11. lpetrich says

    I like the phrase socialist roads, because that describes very well how they are run. We can also refer to socialist military and police forces, for that reason.

    Capitalism apologists sometimes argue that these are “public” roads instead of socialist ones, but that’s hairsplitting.

  12. rjw1 says

    @2 Marcus Ranum

    “You know, the thing the assholes in Washington say doesn’t work.”
    I’m not convinced that the conservative ‘assholes’ in power around the world really care about outcomes, they just hate ‘socialized medicine’.

    @ 10 aziraphale

    “But the right-wingers keep nibbling away at it.”
    The conservative government here in Australia has a similar agenda under the camouflage of a ‘budget crisis’, so far the Senate has stopped the Abbott government from undermining our health system. However it doesn’t pay to be complacent, they will keep trying.

  13. tecolata says

    Even this report does not tell the whole story as it sums up the US as a whole. The maternal death rate for African-American women is nearly 3 times that of white women.

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